At least 600 pilgrims traveling to the Amarnath shrine, led by Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers, on Sunday courted arrest after they were prevented from proceeding towards the hill shrine by the state administration.
The date of the yatra was fixed on June 25 by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. But the pilgrims tried to start the yatra from Sunday, defying the prohibitory orders clamped to deter them.
Nearly six hundred pilgrims from different parts of the country, including members of the VHP and few saints, assembled at Parade area of the city early on Sunday morning to leave for the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir [ Images ], said the police.
The police took them to the Yatra Nivas in Bhagwati Nagar in Jammu, officials said.
The protesters were released in the evening, they added.
Among the arrested pilgrims were VHP state president Ramakant Dubey, BJP state secretary Sat Sharma besides Bharatiya Janta Yuva [ Images ] Morcha president Manish Sharma.
The devotees urged the government to extend the duration of the yatra to two months starting from Jayeshth Purnima on Monday.
They accused the government and the Board of "deliberately" trying to curtail the period of the pilgrimage.
VHP national spokesperson Surinder Jain demanded the governor's resignation following today's incident, saying "being the chairman of the Board it was his responsibility to start the yatra from Jayeshth Purnima, which he has failed to do."
He said that their "campaign will continue till it reaches its logical conclusion."
Jain said that devotees from different district centres will march towards the cave shrine on Monday and if they are stopped by the administration, they will court arrest again.
He also informed that BJP leaders JP Nadda and Tarun Vijay will join the devotees on Monday and Mahamandaleshwar Divyanand will lead the yatra.
"We are still open to talks if the Board comes up with some measures," he said.
Jain also said he will challenge the state administration for calling today's yatra as un-constitutional.
The Board has scheduled the yatra from June 25, as the routes to the holy shrine were still to be covered with the snow and arrangements were still not there for the smooth conduct of the yatra.